Congressman Stephen F. Lynch today reintroduced the "Rail Transit Safety and Security Act of 2005,” legislation that would overhaul training for rail workers, expand safety and communications systems, and improve emergency preparedness of America’s rail networks and personnel. The new version of the legislation incorporates new developments in rail security technology.
"Given the hard evidence around the world of devastating attacks on major rail systems in Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, and Madrid, and the recent discovery of terrorists’ interest in Grand Central Station, we cannot continue to ignore the potential for an attack here in the United States,” said Congressman Lynch, a member of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Relations and Emerging Threats. "It is time to take prudent and reasonable steps toward preventing such attacks from occurring and also limit the extent of damage that such attacks might cause. If we want to make a real difference on rail security, our local and regional transit authorities need information, coordination, and most of all resources. This bill will authorize $4.5 Billion over five years to improve rail security nationwide. Those federal dollars will go directly to training and preparedness, communications equipment, tunnel and perimeter protection systems, surveillance equipment, and public awareness campaigns. Our local transit authorities can’t be expected to secure their railways on their own.”
The Rail Transit Safety and Security Act of 2005 will:
• Require the Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security to conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment of our rail systems, and provide recommendations for improvements, within 90 days.
• Create 8 regional federal rail security managers, to serve as a point of contact, to share threat information, and to work with local officials to implement comprehensive security plans using rail security "best practices.”
• Encourage rail employees to be partners in bringing forward safety and security concerns, by offering comprehensive whistleblower protections similar to those given to corporate whistleblowers under the bipartisan Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
• Authorize $640 million for improvements to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor tunnels, such as better lighting, communications equipment, fire safety, passenger egress, and ventilation
• Authorize $2.5 billion for capital security assistance grants, to help fund tunnel and perimeter protection systems, explosives detection systems, surveillance and communications equipment, evacuation improvements, and emergency response equipment.
• Authorize $1.35 billion for operational security assistance grants, to help fund training exercises, drills, public awareness campaigns, and canine patrols.
• Authorize $50 million for the research and development of new rail security techniques and equipment.
Lynch added, "Five times as many passengers travel by rail as travel by airplane, and yet we’ve spent 100 times more on aviation security than we have on rail security since September 11th. It's time to address the vulnerabilities of America’s railways. It’s been a year since the bombings in Madrid; we can’t wait any longer to act.”